I officially marked the start of week seven as a phlegm bot yesterday. This isn’t an anniversary I want to mark or even acknowledge with a passing thought, yet I can’t help but wonder where the hell my immune system went with no telling when it will return. It’s been the winter of my discontent with illness. It started with pneumonia, morphed into a sinus cold that lasted longer than its predecessor, and later a cough that came on so strong at times, it made me throw up. All of this was followed by a fresh set of symptoms this week. They came on the moment I felt confident I was at the very tip of the tail end of all this sickness. It’s been nothing short of demoralizing. I make a point of trying to live well. I get nine hours of sleep a night and clock my seven to 10 fruits and veg every day. The past month and a half has been an episode of pushing through, though. I’ve been catching up on deadlines and feeling like I’m knocking nothing out of the park. I’m maybe hitting doubles. Motivation in the kitchen, meanwhile, has disappeared with my immune system. I have lentils? Great, lentil soup it is. Again. There’s cabbage? Cool, I’ll shred some up, toss it in a skillet with some sauerkraut and chickpeas and call it dinner. CSA potatoes hanging out in my garage and that bag of frozen peas make a slap-dash lunch with the help of curry, a fried egg crown, and a dollop of mixed pickle. Today’s lunch was also along those lines, born out of the humble contents of my fridge and pantry, which indicate even grocery shopping has challenged me. I had a trio of kohlrabi I bought for their lush greens that were now pallid and shrivelled. The kohlrabi themselves were still perfect inside. I peeled and diced them, making them into perfect match for the last of my CSA potatoes. The two would work their magic together in a soup pot with some chopped onion and a roux to make it creamy. I freestyled this lunch, recalling the luck I had when potatoes and kohlrabi teamed up in meals past. The hit of brown butter and curry added some unctuous warmth. They also amped up an otherwise mild soup in a deceptively simple way. I post this recipe for creamy potato and kohlrabi soup with spicy brown butter in the same footloose spirit. It hasn’t been tested and tested again like the others on this site. But it’s easy to wing and tweak on the fly as you see fit. The end of what’s plaguing me doesn’t feel any more in sight since eating it. But that wasn’t the purpose. It filled the great big void in my stomach that made itself known around noon. It’s the soup to make when you think there’s nothing in the house to eat, and then realize after that first slurp, you’re surrounded by abundance.
Creamy Potato and Kohlrabi Soup with Spicy Brown Butter
This name of this soup belies how easy it is to make. The ingredients are also embarassingly common, too. Potatoes and kohlrabi, by nature of being vegetables with storage power, are often staples in a wintertime kitchen. Butter always has room in my fridge, and curry powder is always on hand for something.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 small kohlrabi, peeled and diced
- 4-5 small-medium white potatoes, peeled and diced (see note)
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- Salt to taste
- For the roux
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup soy milk (see note)
- For the brown butter and curry
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 tablespoon medium curry powder (See note)
Melt two tablespoons of butter in a medium soup pot over medium heat.
Add onions and a pinch of salt, stirring until starting to soften, about two minutes. Add kohlrabi and potato, and stir for two to three minutes more until glistening with butter and their edges start to become translucent.
Add broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmering about 15-20 minutes, until kohlrabi and potatoes are tender.
While the soup is simmering, make the roux.
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a small sauce pan. Whisk in one tablespoon of flour. When well-cominbed and smooth (no lumps!), add milk. Whisk until those fish-eye bubbles start to appear on the surface of the milky mixture and it starts to thicken slightly.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Next, make the brown butter-curry mixture.
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a small skillet. Slide it around until it's foamy and the milk solids separate from the fat. At this point, keep a close eye on it because the milk solids will start to darken and can burn quickly if you're not careful. Tilt the pan to move the butter to and fro until the solids turn golden brown and smell nutty.
Remove from heat and whisk in curry powder. Set aside.
When the potato and kohlrabi are tender, add the roux to the soup. Remove soup from heat and pull out your immersion blender to purée the soup, or blitz it in small batches in a blender, until smooth.
Stir in half the brown butter mixture, reserving the rest to drizzle on top of soup when serving.
The potato and kohlrabi weren't measured for this recipe, hence the size of the veggies instead. Eyeballing it, I had about four cups total of both. It was about a 1:3 ratio of kohlrabi to potatoes. But don't stress if it's half and half or the ratio tips in favour of the kohlrabi. Just eyeball it. The broth should cover the veggies by no more than an inch.
I also used soy milk because I don't drink cow's milk. Soy packs a protein hit but any unsweetened nut milk will do.
And if you don't have curry powder, garam masala would be a beauty swap.